Trade Target – Adam Laroche

Throughout the 2011-2012 off-season, Kevin Creagh will be looking at players that have been rumored to be non-tender or trade candidates, based primarily off of rumors and reports from MLB Trade Rumors.  The review isn’t to suggest that the players are being pursued by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The purpose of the series is to explore the potential options on the market to see who might be a good fit for the 2012 roster.

If I were to ask you if you would like the Pirates to get a 1B this offseason that will hit 20 HR’s in 2012, would you say yes?  I’m sure you would.  If I were to then say that 1B would be Adam LaRoche, what would you say?  Probably a string of expletives that would be unprintable on this site.  But like Joni Mitchell said in song, “Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.”

The Washington Nationals are in pursuit of both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder this offseason in hopes of landing one of them and putting the Nationals squarely on the map as a viable contender.  If either of those guys are obtained, though, there is the small problem of what to do with their incumbent 1B, Adam LaRoche, who is signed for $8 million in 2012 with a $10 million mutual option ($1 million buyout) in 2013.  There are reports that the Nationals could only make a Pujols or Fielder deal work if they traded LaRoche.

LaRoche suffered through an injury-plagued 2011 season that saw him not play after May 21st and require shoulder surgery.  He finished the year with only 3 HR’s in 43 games.  However, before 2011 LaRoche’s last year with hitting less than 20 HR’s was 2004 when he was a part-time starter with the Braves.  LaRoche’s career OPS is 815 and his career wOBA is .347.  Both of those marks would have been good for 2nd highest on the Pirates (trailing McCutchen’s 820 OPS and .360 wOBA) among regulars with more than 250 PA’s.

LaRoche can be a maddening player to watch at times.  His demeanor and mannerisms lead fans to believe that he is a soulless robot, but it was said that he was a key cog in the locker room behind closed doors.  His April struggles and July hot streaks are well documented, but the end result is that game #2 counts the same as game #102 and his end of season stats show a fairly consistent player over his career.

LaRoche is a league average 1B, both offensively and defensively.  He is not a star.  He is not a building block.  He is a place-holder until something better would come along, either internally or externally.  What he would hopefully do is hit 20 HR’s for a team that is starved for power at the moment.  LaRoche is already familiar with the city, the ballpark, and some of the players on the team.

But here’s the tricky part….what is he worth?  Assuming that he would be a one year rental and factoring in the $1 million buyout for 2013, plus using $5M/WAR:

YEAR SALARY WAR VALUE
2012 $8.0 1.5 -$0.5
2013 $1.0 -$1.0
TOTAL $9.0 1.5 -$1.5

OK…LaRoche is not worth his current salary at that conservative projection of his 2012 value.  So the Nationals would need to pad the coffers to make it work for the Pirates (or most teams) to see the need to assume that deal.  In essence, this would be a pure salary dump for the Nationals.

If the Pirates were to give a C-level prospect, would the Nationals kick in $2 million to help balance the ledger?  I’m not sure.  If it were that easy, as with most trade speculations, some other team would do it.  But there are not a lot of teams that would see LaRoche as an upgrade to their current 1B situation.  In that respect, the Pirates are (un)lucky.

Bringing LaRoche back would cause quite a few groans among the Pirate fan populace.  Watching that long, looping swing can be teeth-grinding at times.  But if the Pirates are looking to improve their offense and not finding free agency or the rest of the trade market to their liking, LaRoche could be a fallback solution.

Author: Kevin Creagh

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  • Anonymous

    Wow.  So, the rebuild is coming along so poorly that now we should be considering reacquiring players that underperformed under our previous GM?  I wonder if Tony Armas Jr. is available, too?

    But in all seriousness, Laroche is what he is and he’s not a terrible player.  Obviously we all know that the issue with him during his stint in Pittsburgh was that he was so bad in April and May that no matter how well he played after that, his lack of performance dug a hole that the team could not get out of.

    But I do think it speaks volumes about how bad Huntington has been at acquiring ML talent.  First base is such a black hole that it’s being suggested that he should reacquire the first baseman that he traded away (and got nothing in return) three years ago.

    • Anonymous

      Should the Pirates also look to acquire Jack Wilson?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CXNNVK56IKTGG4GHTVWSDQWEEA Outlaw1972

      I am probably the President of the Matt Hague fan club.  Give this kid a chance!  He is proving in winter ball that he can hit for average (like he has proven at every level that he has played).  He also drives in runs.  He hits in the clutch.  Does it really matter how the runs are driven in?  At this point, I could care less is our first baseman has 65 RBI that are driven in by singles or homeruns.  The point is, he hits, and that is what matters.  He also walks alot, and strikes out at a low ratio.  High OBP proves that.  Put him at first and spend on a quality third baseman.  Give Alvarez the chance to concentrate on his skills.

  • http://twitter.com/hemmist hemmist

    Usually I am pretty open to improving the Pirates but I really feel that it would be better to let Hague play 1st than trade for LaRoche. I would be part of that Pirates fanbase that would groan every time he struck out! 

  • Anonymous

    Its not just more of the same, its worse than more of the same.  Is $2M really that important?

    Instead of taking the cash, expand the deal. Take Laroche and all of contract, throw in what the Nationals really need, a lead off hitter and center fielder.  If we want to get Peacock, put Marte in the deal.  If they don’t want to give up Marte, shoot for pitchers in low A like AJ Cole (he might take a bit of a prospect though) or Robbie Ray.  They could also go for a less than stellar prospect like Tom Milone or Ross Detwiler, either of whom could pitch in the majors this year and would fill Maholm’s left slot.

    Trading anyone for one year of Laroche is more of the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Leighton/1000137680 Ron Leighton

    He would improve the team but I don’t like the idea of getting left overs from the Nats or other teams.

    For a C level prospect (Matt Hague?) why not.  He would help the team in 2012 but unless HN is really making an effort to upgrade in 2012 it wouldn’t make sense to pay his salary.

  • Anonymous

    None of LaRoach’s stats will convince me that he is any kind of option at all. Resign Lee, if he can’t be resigned, go for Pena, if he can’t be signed, just put Hague at first, they experiment with everyone else, why not Hague? If they don’t like Hague and it appears that they don’t, then quit fulling around with him and trade him, then we can read the newspapers in Pittsburgh and watch local TV shows talk about him everytime he hits a single.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KEYHS3XWH74U3LRIHGWL7XPBA Nate

    You know how get us going!  :)  That era is over and I’d rather see Hague up there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vince-Riedy/100002800992567 Vince Riedy

    I too would much rather see Hague get a shot than bringing back LaRoche. The shoulder surgery last year is alarming plus what is the point of acquiring an average placeholder for one year? It makes far more sense to give Hague a shot and see what he can do in Pittsburgh.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

    I would rather see Hague get the nod.  

  • Anonymous

    Sorry but as right as you are it is just too painful to think about…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OZG2IYY4UIJEND5745XPPUOSHY steve-O K

    The only way I’d consider the deal is if Wash. is sending the prospects with him…

  • Anonymous

    Adam LaRoche was below average in terms of production for a corner infielder in 2010 and was a disaster early in 2011 before suffering a season ending injury.     He is already 32 years old, and his long swing isn’t likely to allow for improved production as he moves later in his career.     This is not a good use of resources for a rebuilding baseball team – I would have much rather seen it used on Maholm, since it obviously isn’t going to be used on anyone of significant substance.     I’d rather see Garrett Jones at first base and Hague taking the at bats against lefties, even with his reverse splits.

    On the flipside, the organization would get Adam LaRoche back, AND get to keep Hunter Strickland too!    If only they still had Arpenis Diaz…

  • http://www.facebook.com/warren.mcclurg Warren McClurg

    What about Brett Wallace as a trade target?

    From Jim Bowden on ESPN today:

    “Astros manager Brad Mills says Carlos Lee
    will be the Astros’ starting first baseman in 2012, and that could open
    up a deal involving Brett Wallace to the Cleveland Indians. The Indians
    have been discouraged by Carlos Pena’s (No. 17 on my free-agent board)
    high asking price and are not convinced that Matt LaPorta is going to
    hit well. Wallace has been in four different organizations since being
    drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. ”

    • Anonymous

      I also like Brett Wallace, he might be just the right guy for PNC’s short right field.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AGRPLJJRC5GNBYXDY6LHF2U6DU white angus

     ”His April struggles and July hot streaks are well documented, but the end result is that game #2 counts the same as game #102 and his end of season stats show a fairly consistent player over his career.”
      This is fine and dandy for some fantasy baseball leagues, but what good is a July or August hot streak when his dead bat is one of the reasons the pirates were always 15 games by that time???

    i agree that Laroche didnt deserve alot of the venom aimed his way, but not performing for the first 3 months or so didnt help the team one bit.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I think the 2011 season debunked this theory that LaRoche’s early season struggles were why the Pirates were 15 games out. We saw Lyle Overbay play horribly for the first three months of the year in 2011, and the Pirates were contending. Ironically, they could have used a guy like LaRoche this past year when the team fell apart in the second half.

      This is also another big problem that surrounded LaRoche. He was expected to carry the team. The reality is that he’s a good support player. Him struggling in April should have never been the reason why the Pirates were so far behind. I think the fact that he got a lot of the blame for the team struggles early on showed a problem with the makeup of the team, and not with LaRoche.

      • Anonymous

        No, he was never, “expected to carry the team.”  He was being added to a lineup that had Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez (who was coming off of a season in which he won the batting title and had on OPS of .851), Xavier Nady and Jose Bautista.

        He was added to be a support player.  There was hope that he’d be a big contributor, but your assertion that he was expected to, “carry the team,” is wrong.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          You must have missed all of the “Lefty McThump” talk leading up to his trade, and the talk about finding a big power hitter for the heart of the lineup.

          • Anonymous

            No, I didn’t miss any of that.  He still wasn’t expected to, “carry the team.” I’ll tell you who IS expected to carry the team:

            Andrew McCutchen.

            • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

              Whatever you want to believe.

              • Anonymous

                Tim, you make it sound like your opinion is a fact and my opinion is wrong. 

                Laroche was added to a lineup that already had a proven power hitter in Bay and a batting champion in Freddy.  So Laroche was brought in to be an additional run producer, not to carry the team.

                • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

                  I’m just agreeing to disagree on this one. It’s not worth either of our time to debate. I’ll just point to the comments made by Littlefield leading up to, and after the trade. I’ll also point to how LaRoche was mostly used in the cleanup spot, when he’s really a strong number six hitter. Those two things clearly show that he was brought in with the expectation that he’d carry the lineup.

                  Note that I’m not saying these were my expectations. I always thought LaRoche was best in the role he had with the Braves in 2006: a strong support player. But the Pirates brought him in to be the big left handed power bat for the lineup, and there’s no way he could have ever lived up to those expectations.

                  What you’re saying is true. That’s what happened with LaRoche. He was basically an additional run producer. What I’m saying is that he was touted as something more, and a lot of fans held him to those expectations.

                  • Anonymous

                    While I understand what you’re saying, I don’t think most fans expected him to produce like a Miguel Cabrera, a Mark Teixeira, a Manny Ramirez.  I think he was expected to be a left handed compliment to Jason Bay.

                    What’s interesting is that while he was a disappointment while with the Pirates, his overall numbers really weren’t that bad.  Had he put up those same numbers but did it consistently, as opposed to being invisible for the first half every year, I don’t think he would have gotten nearly as bad of a rap.  So, to me, it wasn’t that the expectations were that he’d be a Manny Ramirez type and he didn’t live up to that, the problem was that despite putting up numbers that were similar to what was expected of him, he did it in such a fashion that it was almost as if he wasn’t even there at all.

                    All that being said, I think the suggestion of bringing him back now (three years later while he’s aged and his production continues to decline) is silly.

          • Anonymous

            Regardless of one’s expectations of LaRoche, outside his 2006 season he’s been nothing more than a below average to average 1b.  But now that he’s on the wrong side of 30, the Pirates should look to acquire him?  Why, because he’s better than Jeff Clement and Lyle Overbay?  Amazing how the best management team in baseball can’t fill the easiest position in baseball.

            But continue to believe what you want to believe.  The fact is, most good GM’s could turn a franchise into a contender in 5 years or less.  The Pirates’ GM is hoping to “upgrade” to Adam LaRoche in his 5th year.

            • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

              I think you missed the first paragraph of this article.

              • Anonymous

                I think you forgot Lyle Overbay and every other 30+ positional player NH has acquired.

                But this time it will work out, right?

          • Michael Webster

            Tim, I agree with White Angus and Tdippo.  I liked Laroche, but he was a hole in the middle of the lineup when Bay, Sanchez, Nady and McLouth were having good years.  He never turned it on until it was way too late.  I think he was expected to protect Bay, not carry the team.  Another thing is that he was terrible in 2011 before the shoulder surgery.  I live in DC, and he said it didn’t bother him hitting, only throwing.  That’s scary.  I’d much rather give Hague a shot.

            • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

              That’s my point though. LaRoche isn’t a guy who should be in the middle of the lineup. He’s not a guy who should be providing protection. He was destined to disappoint because he was batting out of position in the lineup. If you look at his best seasons, they came when he wasn’t expected to be the number one or number two hitter on the team.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AGRPLJJRC5GNBYXDY6LHF2U6DU white angus

    15 games OUT by that time…  sorry bout that

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the haters in the comments are thinking it out fully.

    Clearly, LaRoche would be a 3rd(at best) option but he should definitely be an option if the Nationals are sending (I’d say more like $3+m)  $$. In that scenario he is a far better option than Hague for 2012.

    • Anonymous

      How do you figure that a guy who’s stat lines have been in a steady decline in all major categories for three consecutive seasons, is well past his prime (in MLB years) and wasn’t able to take advantage of PNC’s short right field the first three seasons he spent with the team is better than a guy who’s nearing his prime age (again, in MLB years), has hit very consistently at every level of MiLB and someone who should be in the consideration for the 1B of the future?

      I’d really like to hear your rationale for this type of logic.

      Just for reference, here’s LaRoche’s last three seasons:

      2009 .277 BA, 25 HR, .355 OBP, .488 Slg, .843 OPS
      2010 .261 BA, 25 HR, .320 OBP, .468 Slg, .788 OPS
      2011 .172 BA, 3 HR, .288 OBP, .258 Slg, .546 OPS

      And here’s Hagues, albeit in the MiL:
      2009 .293 BA, 8 HR, .356 OBP, .412 Slg, .768 OPS
      2010 .295 BA, 15 HR, .375 OBP, .442 Slg, .817 OPS
      2011 .309 BA, 12 HR, .372 OBP, .457 Slg, .829 OPS

      • Anonymous

        I don’t like LaRoche that much as an option, I just like Hague less. No one truly knows how either will perform next year tbh.

    • Anonymous

      I’m pretty sure this is what Tim meant about behaving like an adult.  There is no reason to use the term “haters” simply because you disagree with them.

      As I stated in another post, if the Nationals have to shed salary, $9M total for Laroche, why would they send money?  The assumption isn’t valid.

      While I disagree that he may be a far better option for 2012, 2011 wasn’t good for him, even if he were, it misses the point.  The goal isn’t 2012.  

      Its 2013 or more accurately some time after that.  This team should be using 2012 to see what they have for the future.  Laroche has no future.

      • Anonymous

        I’m sorry, but for this particular topic, people are “hating” on LaRoche.

        And the Nats would need to send money for all the reasons people are pointing out here; he just isn’t that good. The thing is, that is still better than Hague and clearly not everyone is in agreement with that.

        And yes, we’d like to find a long-term solution but I don’t think one is available to us other than to develop our own guys and cross our fingers. We are just plugging holes here. Guys like Barajas or D. Lee have no future either. Regardless of how we got to this point, that is the state of our team right now in needing players like that.

        • Anonymous

          No one is hating on Laroche.  What you claim is “hating” is actually legitimate criticism.  You prove with your comment that “he just isn’t that good”.  Are you hating too or is a legitimate criticism?

          Again, if the Nationals have to unload money to sign a free agent, why are they going to send money that they need to spend on a free agent?  The logic doesn’t stand scrutiny.

          Here’s the thing.  Hague may not be a long term solution, there is some reason to think he could be. There is no doubt at all that Laroche is not a long term solution.  He’s a  short term solution by everyone’s admission.  So, why not go with the guy who could be, no matter how slight the chance is, the solution.  None of this trade discussion to get Laroch withstands any analysis.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

      eeee12, you sir are wrong, no chance that Laroche is an upgrade over Hague.  I don’t understand our FO, they give everyone a chance including a 5′ 6″ 3B named Harrison, a terrible defensive SS in d’Arnuad yet they won’t give Hague a shot even though he has proven time and time again that he deserves a chance.  Just plain stupid.  

  • Anonymous

    If the Nationals are looking to shed Laroche’s contract to sign Pujols or Fielder, why would they send money?  That’s where this trade logic falls apart.

    It breaks down even more.  As others have pointed out, Laroche is not an average first baseman.  I will throw out 2011 only because his injury shows age matters and further proves my point.  If you look at 2010 WAR numbers, Laroche as 19 of 23 qualifiers.  He was 16 of 23 in wOBA.  He was 13th in OPS.    If those numbers weren’t bad enough, he struck out 172 times, second only to Adam Dunn.  Nothing in 2010 indicates that Laroche was remotely close to being an average first baseman.

    The Pirates need to acquire all types of prospect, A, B, and C.  They don’t need to give them away for one year of mediocrity or worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremiah-Ewing/1624609222 Jeremiah Ewing

    I’d prefer Morse if I were to go for a Nat 1B… though LaRoche would be an easy get.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

    FREE HAGUE !~!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I want to put my 2 cents in here…I think they should go after Casey Kotchman. They could have Kotchman and Hague split the 1B duties until Hague proves he is ready to be the starter. If both of them flop, we still would have a viable option in Garret jones on the bench. Kothcman is basically what Hague projects to be in a few years, a solid defensive firstbaseman that hits for average with 12-15 homers per year. The only thing is, no matter what Hague has done in the minors he has yet to see a single pitch in the majors. regardless of what you might think, minor league statistics mean absolutely nothing once you are called up to the show. Hague looks more interesting because of the lack of production we had from the 1B position the last couple seasons. I would like to see him get his shot, but until then I will refrain from saying he is better then any player in the major leagues, including Adam LaRoche…….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q3FAWWCCJRO4UQ2DGQW5RIR4WU Jeff

    i was thinking the same thing!I like lee 1st but see kotchman as affordabe and good temp fix.what do you think of omar visquel?sure i misspelled that.